Schools and district leaders across Illinois are mounting a concerted effort to get the state to pass a budget, a governmental feat that has eluded Gov Bruce Rauner, a Republican, for 22 months, the Chicago Tribune reports, covering a forum last week in north-suburban Deerfield.
“The districts with the greatest amount of poverty get the least amount of money,” the paper quoted state Representative Scott Drury, a Democrat from Highwood, as saying at the forum. “On average, the state’s school districts with the greatest number of low-income students receive 20 percent less funding than wealthier districts. That’s really crazy.”
But even more affluent districts have much to complain about, given the state’s long-running failure to pass a budget. Using the hashtag #PassILBudget, many school leaders have been pushing for movement on this front.
— Karen Sullivan (@ksullivan204) April 24, 2017
Ms Sullivan, from the tweet above, began serving as superintendent of Indian Prairie School District 204 in June 2014. But even downstate, support for a state budget being passed is undeniable:
— Monticello Supt (@MonticelloCUSD) April 24, 2017
For example, according to figures quoted in the Tribune article, schools in the downstate rural community of Beardstown spend approximately $7,800 per student but Lake Bluff School District 65, on Chicago’s North Shore, spends about $19,000. Even if the formula is revised, though, which it clearly needs to be in order to ensure equity across the state, leaders in Springfield can’t keep passing stopgap measures that are inadequate.
Not providing a good education for kids throughout the state is self-defeating:
“With a good education the students get jobs, pay taxes to generate revenue (for the state) and spend money in their community,” the Tribune quoted Mr Drury as saying. “Without that, they can end up in jail. It costs between $36,000 and $37,000 a year to keep a person in jail. We can keep paying for that or we can find the money for early childhood education and for English language learners.”
An email message this morning from Jeff Schuler, superintendent of District 200 in Wheaton, said this:
More than 400 Illinois school district superintendents, representing more than 1.35 million children, have signed on to support Pass Illinois’s Budget, a statewide grassroots initiative that launched April 24th. The goal of this initiative is to encourage the governor and state legislature to do the following:
- Immediately, and with bipartisan support, end the state budget impasse.
- Improve the state’s education funding formula and invest in children and schools, including higher education institutions.
- Pay school districts what they are owed this year through the approved education budget.
While Illinois public schools have received some assistance from a partially-funded state budget, children, families, and communities in Illinois will continue to suffer without a full state budget. To date, the State of Illinois owes District 200 $7.3 million in Mandated Categorical state payments, which support special education, bilingual education, transportation, and other important and required services. As we have shared with you in the past few months, it is difficult for us to create a budget and appropriately plan for necessary expenditures when we can’t count on promised revenues from the state for important services we provide.